Tips on Negotiating a Sound Physician Agreement

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

I was recently invited to speak at the Michigan State University Radiology Department, in front of their Residents, on a topic that is very much overlooked by new physicians, or even experienced physicians: Understanding their employment agreement.

StethiscopeMore and more physicians entering into their profession are ignoring some of basic concepts that come with their agreement. However, there is always one clause that is never ignored – their salary. While the complexity and details of a contract can vary with depending on the employer and location, certain clauses must always be addressed. This article will illustrate the three (3) primary areas of concern that every physician, whether new or experienced, should take into consideration when negotiating their Physician Employment Agreement.

Non-Compete Agreements:

A non-compete agreement is a restriction placed on you that bars you from practicing with competitors within a specific geographic area and within a specific period of time. Two factors that should be considered: (a) Whether the state you are working in enforces non-compete agreements (Michigan does as of 1987); and (b) if your state does, are the restrictions placed on you reasonable.

In order to determine reasonableness, courts have laid out three (3) elements: (1) Geographic area; (2) Duration; and (3) Market Description.

Geographic area: In Michigan, courts have established that a 50-mile radius is deemed reasonable. Therefore, if you are terminated from your employment and you are seeking employment, anything within 50-miles from your previous employer will be unacceptable.

Duration: Case law has also established that anywhere between 18-24 months is considered a reasonable timeframe; meaning, you are prohibited from working within the guidelines for at least 18-24 months.

Market Description: It is always important to read and understand exactly what your Employer is restricting you from. If the contract states you are prohibited from practicing in the field of medicine upon the termination of this contract (and you are a radiologist), then clearly that will not be accepted as a reasonable restriction and would not be enforced. However, if it states that you are not allowed to practice in the field of radiology within the stated guidelines, than courts can consider that as reasonable.

Duties/Responsibilities

For no apparent reason, Employers tend to be lazy when it comes to defining and explaining what your job actually entails. Through my experience, I have noticed that the majority of contracts will define duties as “what is reasonably conducted in the (insert field) profession.”

It is always advised to question the employer and receive a thorough explanation on what “reasonable” actually means. There could be several implications, and more often than not, no two people will carry the same definition and meaning to the word. I always advise my clients to ensure you have a detailed understanding as to what is expected of you when you enter into your profession, and stay clear from ambiguity.

Fringe Benefits

Your employment agreement should always indicate exactly what benefits you are to receive. Furthermore, keep in mind that the variety and flexibility in your benefits will depend on the type of practice you are in. If you find yourself in a smaller practice, you may be able to negotiate a more individualized package. However, in larger practices you will more likely have a uniform program covering all employees; thus, less room for negotiating.

The following are the more common benefits that tend to be addressed the most during negotiations:

Insurance: Always make sure to ask what types of insurance you are being offered; whether it is health, dental, life, or disability. Health insurance is traditionally the most common of the four, however depending on the size of your company, employers do still offer life and disability.

Vacation: It is inevitable that you will receive vacation days, however what you may not know is whether you are permitted from carrying over those days to the following year. Furthermore, is Continuing Medical Education (CME) time included as part of your vacation days, or are they in addition to them?

Malpractice Insurance: No matter how perfect of a physician you are, or consider yourself to be, having malpractice insurance is vital. More importantly, knowing which type you have can be equally as vital. There are primarily two types of malpractice coverage that an employer can offer:

Occurrence. The physician is covered for malpractice that occurs during the period that the policy was in force, regardless of when the claim is filed.

Claims. The physician is covered for claims filed during the coverage period regardless of when the malpractice occurred.

More often than not, because of the expensive premiums associated with occurrence based coverage, you will find yourself in a claims based insurance coverage. Therefore, it is imperative that you inquire into the purchase of a “tail” policy, which covers claims that can be filed after your coverage period ends.

Whether you are a newbie or an experienced physician, always remember that employers always have their own best interest in mind. Therefore, it is important to never simply browse over your contract without giving it the attention it truly deserves. I advise every physician I have encountered, always seek the opinion and advice of a trusted professional who can provide you with a sound analysis and possibly assist you during your negotiating phase. Remember, as a physician, the large salary and healthy lifestyle is expected, but to live a peaceful life, it is the parameters of your contract, the additional clauses that make the difference.

13-34

Islamic Iphone Apps

December 27, 2009 by · 15 Comments 

By Jeremy Blaney, Michigan State University, UPIU.com

osx_prayertimes iquran ArabtallerPro2_2
Prayer times Iphone Qur`an Arabic language support

EAST LANSING, Mich., Nov. 11 (UPI) — If you want to read a verse from Qur`an, there’s an app for that. If you want to be reminded of the five daily prayers, there’s an app for that. And if you need to know what direction to face when it’s time to pray, there’s an app for that.

There’s a computer application for just about anything and some Muslims are taking full advantage of such technological innovations to practice their faith.

“I’ve downloaded a few of the Islamic applications for my iPod touch,” said Nada Zohdy, a senior at Michigan State University.

One application consolidates Islamic prayers into a central location that can, once downloaded, be accessed with or without wireless connectivity. It includes, for example, prayers that are said before entering or after leaving a mosque.

“These prayers aren’t mandatory,” said Zohdy, who refers to her iPod to recite prayers in her car before and after Friday prayers. “They’re like extra things that you can do. Because of the iPod touch, I was able to do things I wouldn’t typically do.”

Apple says developers have created more than 100,000 apps covering 20 categories for iPhone and iPod touch users in 77 countries. The query “Islam” or “Muslim” returns dozens of applications that vary in cost and purpose.

“I have the Qur`an application,” said Khasim Jafri, president of the Muslim Students Association at Michigan State University. “I use it more for reference, like if I’m trying to look up a certain verse or just want to read a short chapter.

“If you have downtime, maybe you should be doing something worthwhile. Now, something worthwhile is available at your fingertips.”

Other technologies are also helping Muslims follow the rituals of their religion. Mounzer Kassab, an associate professor in the department of neurology at Michigan State University, travels with a customizable clock that sounds when it is time to perform each of the five daily prayers that are obligatory in Islam.

“You put in the city code,” he said, “and it will automatically do the call to prayer, five times a day. It has solved a lot of problems while traveling.”

Followers of other religions have also discovered conveniences offered by technology. In May, the Roman Catholic Church launched Pope2You.net, a portal that provides access to several applications, including ones for Facebook and the iPhone and iPod touch.

“It’s a good communication tool, education tool, and evangelization tool,” said the Rev. Mark Inglot, a pastor in East Lansing, Mich. “The Internet has connected people in a way that they’ve never been connected before, and we’re embracing that technology.”

Inglot admitted, however, that the technological shift required some adjustments in attitudes. Inglot has a Catholic prayer application on his BlackBerry to help guide his recitation of the Divine Office, daily prayers that are obligatory for priests.

“My first thought was, ‘Does this take away from the sanctity?’” Inglot said. “Instead of holding this prayer, you’re holding your BlackBerry, but we just have to get used to it. And as we use technology for this purpose, we’re sanctifying that medium. It is another way that God can work in our lives.”

Zohdy shared Inglot’s initial unease about the medium delivering the religious message.

“When I read the Qur`an online,” she said, “it feels a little less genuine. It still is different from the experience of holding the Qur`an.”

Another potential problem with mixing technology and religion, Zohdy said, involves distractions.

“Maybe part of it has to do with the fact that when I’m on the computer, I’m doing several things at once,” she said. “If I’m reading the Qur`an online, I might not stay as easily focused as if I were holding the Qur`an in my hands.”

Some Muslims, however, see technological advancement as a threat to rituals. Kassab cited the holy month of Ramadan for one example. Muslims traditionally look for the new moon to verify that Ramadan has ended. But if clouds cover the moon, tradition dictates that Ramadan is not over and fasting must continue for an extra day.

“A lot of authorities are calling for astrological calculations, which are extremely accurate,” Kassab said. “But some don’t see a need for change. Some say they are going to follow tradition. You’re always going to find someone who is resistant to technology.”

11-53

Students Report on Islam in Unique Course

December 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Alexandra Carter, UPIU.com

img_3376_large_square geri zeldes

Left:  Students speak with Professor Geri Alumit Zeldes after the “Reporting on Islam” class at Michigan State University; Right:  Professor Zeldes distributes graded story revisions for the “Reporting on Islam” course.

Photos by Alexandra Carter

 

EAST LANSING, Mich., Dec. 11 (UPI) — A new course at Michigan State University teaches students how to deal with the complexities of reporting on Islam in a post-Sept. 11 world.

This semester, students wrote about holiday celebrations and about how Muslim students feel about American university life. They also analyzed news reports on Islam from around the world in the new, “Reporting on Islam” course at Michigan State University.

“[The course] definitely made me uncomfortable at times, but honestly, that is how I know it was worthwhile,” said Dan Redford, a student. “It helped me experience a part of the world and this country that I never had before.”

Students uploaded the stories they wrote and the photos they took to UPIU.com, a service of United Press International for university students. Professor Geri Alumit Zeldes said that she wanted the class to submit its stories to UPIU to “have an outlet, other than me, to share their stories.”

Of the 14 registered students in the course, half had at least one of their stories published online through UPIU. Student Andrew Norman’s story on Islamic punk music was featured in blog in The San Francisco Sentinel and Wall Street Journal.

Student Brian J. Bowe said that using Web tools such as Skype to talk to people in other countries helped “shrink the world,” an exciting aspect of the course.

“Those classroom interactions with people in places like Iraq, Iran and India enriched the experience for me,” Bowe said. “One of the problems in media portrayals of Islam is that we’re frequently talking about Muslims, but not to Muslims. Using technology, we were able to bridge cultures and have very profound dialogues.”

Students also talked to Muslims who live in Michigan as sources for some articles.

“I found our visit to [the Islamic Center of East Lansing] highly beneficial. I would have been timid about going there alone,” said student Jennifer Hoewe. “Since I was joined by my classmates and welcomed by those who attended the mosque, I felt comfortable enough to go again by myself later in the semester as part of an article I wrote.”

The new class comes as students across the United States are showing more interest in Islam and in academic topics affiliated with the faith. Three of the students in “Reporting on Islam” studied Arabic, two of them through the university’s Arabic department, which had roughly 150 students enrolled in classes this fall.

Several of the students in “Reporting on Islam” also are in the Muslim Studies specialization program, which was created by Professor Mohammed Ayoob after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The reporting course was just one of many offered this semester under this specialization, along with classes in arts and humanities, public affairs, religion, political science, anthropology and sociology.

“Reporting on Islam” is a good first step for many students to continue learning about the topic, said Zahkia Smith, a student.

“I think what’s most important coming out of this class is that the very best way to know how to report on Islam is to get involved and actually step into the Muslim community,” Smith said. “The class gives you the right tools. The completion of the class is the signal to dig further.”

“Reporting on Islam” is a pilot course offered jointly through Michigan State’s School of Journalism and its Muslim Studies program. It was started with a grant from the Social Science Research Council, a national non-profit group. In addition, the course is part of the Islam, Muslims, and Journalism Education program, a project on the Internet funded by the same grant that has a goal to generate accurate and balanced reporting.

Similar courses have been taught at other American university campuses, Zeldes said. For example, Marda Dunsky, instructor of Islamic World Studies at DePaul University, teaches the “Reporting the Arab and Muslim World” course.

11-53

MYNA Association Meets at Bloomfield’s Muslim Unity Center

December 6, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

Bloomfield Hills-November 30-Speak to people on the level they understand. This seems to have been the theme that underlay an engaging speech given by Michigan State University sophomore Tammam Alwani to a packed room of about 50 students and parents at the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center this past Friday evening.

Mr. Alwan covered several points very well, emphasizing that speaking about Islam with non-Muslims is a necessity–”We must speak to them to survive.”

He challenged points which are essential, namely that in speaking with others we should not take an absolutist position, instead respecting the necessary differences of outlook that exist even within the Muslim community. He explained that Muslims should not use Qur`an as proof in speaking with non-Muslims, since those non-Muslims obviously do not accept Qur`an so will not believe arguments based on it. He emphasized the importance of neither fearing exposure to non-Muslims nor completely abandoning our way in favor of their way–instead we should engage with non-Muslims with wisdom.

The young people started out very engaged in his speech, speaking frankly with him and listening closely. After the early part of the meeting, adults peppered Mr. Alwan with questions and reactions and the children faded to silence.

Speaking of the reason for the meeting, Dr. Muhammad Kashlan, the President of the Unity Center, explained that “We want to develop youth leadership in the center–we want to prepare good leaders” to take over for us after we are gone.

9-50